Porky Baycann

His Summer of '43 in Palomino

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
388 Pages
Reviewed on 10/24/2019
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Author Biography

Tank Gunner is the pen name of a retired combat cavalry trooper, Senior Parachutist, & Jumpmaster awarded a Combat Infantry Badge & decorated with a Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, one for Valor, & a Purple Heart. He served his nation with pride & honor for more than a quarter century as an enlisted soldier & officer. An award-winning author and speaker, Tank wrote & published Prompts a collection of stories at age 76, Prompts Too another collection of stories at 77, Cookie Johnson, his Vietnam historical fiction novel at 78, his WWII historical fiction novel Palomino at 79, & Porky Baycann at 80. He & his wife live with Toby, 100 miles southwest of Palomino.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Porky Baycann: His Summer of ’43 in Palomino is a work of historical fiction centred around the Second World War, and was penned by author Tank Gunner. The companion novel to the central wartime work Palomino, which focuses on the lives of more than 370,000 German POWs who were shipped to Palomino during the war, this separate but related tale showcases the adventures of a younger Porky and many of Palomino’s characters in the summer of 1943. We learn of Porky’s yearning to see his father, who is missing in action, his growing friendship with TJ and the beginnings of a darkness in Palomino that will only get worse as time goes on.

It was a delight to return to the culturally rich and historically fascinating Palomino, which author Tank Gunner works so very hard to bring to life before our eyes. Despite the fictionalization, the issues at hand during 1943 are very real indeed, and the atmosphere of the war and what is yet to come hangs in the well-chosen words and clever descriptions of the adult characters around Porky in his formative years. Porky’s journey is sweet and relatable in parts, whilst in others the surreal nature of adjusting to a world at war is painfully prevalent. It was wonderful to see the connections between this and Palomino itself, and I feel readers could engage with the novels in any order and still get a rich story. Overall, I’d certainly recommend Porky Baycann: His Summer of ’43 in Palomino to all historical fiction fans.

Rabia Tanveer

Porky Baycann: His Summer of '43 in Palomino by Tank Gunner is the story of a young man learning to become a grown man in the most unique way possible. Set in the summer of 1943, Porky is trying to live his life one day at a time to make sure that he misses nothing. When his mother received a letter telling them that his father has gone missing while serving, Porky is sad and a little mad at the world. So any activity is a good activity. He makes a new friend called TJ and together they go on new adventures. He wishes that his friend could be with him everywhere he goes and become a Boy Scout too, but things are not meant to be this way. Soon he realizes that becoming friends is more than just hanging out. He realizes that life has different meanings and starting new friendships is the beginning of a long and beautiful journey.

This is a brilliant coming-of-age story where our young protagonist becomes a mature man who understands that life has so many different faces and every single one of them is worth exploring. TJ and Porky’s friendship is so pure and real. They understand each other, they rely on each other and they simply let the other exist while enjoying the ride with each other. I loved Porky; he is smart for his age and he certainly has a mind that deserves a little more exploring. I haven’t read the companion novel, but after reading this, I will surely give it a try. The narrative is butter-smooth; it flows effortlessly and allows the reader to be swept away in the story. I really enjoyed reading this!

Jamie Michele

A celebrity passes through in his military uniform. Two teen boys become friends despite the climate of the time. A young woman has been killed. Just another day in a small town in Texas according to Tank Gunner, author of Porky Baycann: His Summer of '43 in Palomino. This is the second book written by Gunner taking place in Porky's hometown, the first being Palomino, which introduced this titular country neighborhood. Porky Baycann reads as a stand-alone and juggles multiple subplots, including news that Porky's father is missing in action after his ship went down. WWII and race relations both play heavy roles in the theme of this book, as it follows the teenage protagonist through personal and political turmoil—none of his own making—and the life in a small town where big things are happening.

Porky Baycann is a well-written book that does a good job of balancing nostalgia and storytelling, and delicately managing the expectations of American war fiction with literary mysteries. I am usually not a fan of accents that are written out phonetically in dialogue, but Tank Gunner is skilled at using them to punctuate the tone of the conversation and the people in Palomino, and so it works well here. Porky is the perfect blend of relative innocence and emotional maturity, and he and his friend TJ are easy to connect with and root for. I really enjoyed this book and believe those who enjoy any of the multiple genres it blankets will have a wonderful time in Palomino as well.